My New Sabian Memphis Ride
By Bryan Sansom
I’m absolutely insane about cymbals. Dry, dark, washy and wobbly, I’m constantly looking for nice sounds, not matter the manufacturer. Over the years, my personal tastes and musical roles have led to a very big, dark, washy sound. My primary cymbal set up consisted of the following cymbals: 22″ Istanbul Traditional Light Ride, 21″ Istanbul Mel Lewis Ride w/ one rivet, 20″ Zildjian Crash of Doom, and various hi-hats ranging from 13-15 inch varieties. Of course I would swap out a cymbal here and there when it seemed appropriate, but you get the idea.
Then recently I joined a country blues band, which is a musical setting I didn’t have much experience with. It required me to fill a different sonic space and provide a percussive backdrop where vocal harmonies and guitar licks take center stage. I quickly realized that none of the six ride cymbals that I own really fit the bill. So I began doing some research.
Initially I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for. But after listening to some old blues and early rock albums, the sounds I heard were obvious and familiar. The first thing I noticed was a much drier, defined sound coming from the ride cymbal. I very bright, articulate sound. A sound that could drive the music when it needed a push, but also provided a delicate crystalline ping that filled just enough space when used sparingly. This is certainly a classic sound, and I needed to find just the right cymbal.
Sabian was not my first choice. My preference has always been towards more traditional sounding cymbals, and I associated Sabian with a more modern rock sound. I went to my local drum shop, The Drum Pad in Palatine, IL, and started to weed through their massive cymbal collection. I bought a Zildjian High definition ride; too dry. Then a Zildjian Dry Complex Ride; too washy. I had a very particular sound in my head, and none of these really seemed appropriate.
Upon returning the second cymbal, the guy behind the counter suggested a brand new cymbal from Sabian called a Memphis Ride. The name sounded promising, and I was getting frustrated and open to suggestions, so I asked him to order one for me. In the meantime I went on youtube and checked out the videos of this cymbal to see what I could expect. Although you don’t necessarily get an entirely accurate portrayal of the cymbal from a youtube recording, it certainly gives you a good idea. I find myself doing this a lot now when looking for new cymbals, or when I’m just bored. It’s like cymbal porn… Anyway, the videos seemed promising, so I eagerly awaited my cymbal’s arrival.
I got it on a Saturday morning and spent a good hour or so playing it at home. The videos were pretty accurate. The cymbal had a beautiful stick sound, reminiscent of a flat ride in its glassy articulation. It was just dry enough, but opened up nicely when I really layed into it, building to a slight roar but never losing its stick definition. It’s also very crashable, and doesn’t sound overly harsh like some heavier ride cymbals do when crashed. The bell is extremely defined and can get dangerously loud if you really work it. I took it to the gig that night and never looked back. The band even likes it!
I’ve been gigging with this cymbal for almost two months now and absolutely love it. I’m even finding that it works well with some of the other bands I play in. It’s also a nice option to have in venues where the room is already very live. It fills that space between washy and dry very nicely. It’s a very versatile cymbal that’s proved very useful in my collection. I was definitely pleasantly surprised by Sabian.
This concludes another edition of “Oh Boy Do I Love Cymbals!” with Bryan Sansom. Tune in next time when Bryan saves up enough money and can distract his wife long enough to buy yet another cymbal.